Social Security Administration InadequaciesBy now most people are aware that the high rate of unemployment, resulting from a struggling economy, has put pressure on this nation’s disability insurance system. Adding to the strain of quickly diminishing disability insurance funds is the aging baby boom population. The Social Security Administration has found itself left flooded with applications for disability insurance benefits.

As a result of these various factors, the Social Security program has become backed up. Consequentially, it can take years for many individuals who are entitled to disability insurance benefits to receive them.

Each year, although about 2.5 million Americans file claims for Social Security disability benefits, two thirds of them are turned down in the first stage of consideration. Numerous applicants then become discouraged and give up pursuing, through appeals, the benefits that they likely are entitled to.

A backlogged system due to employee layoffs, high turnover, and arbitrary decisions of employees who deal with such claims is not a sufficient excuse justifying Social Security denials to those who are in need of benefits. Additionally, any Social Security program problems that exist federally should not be passed of to the states; rather, the whole system ought to run smoothly.

Legitimate applicants deserve the rightful benefits due to them from the Social Security program, which was introduced by President Roosevelt around time of the Great Depression. Social Security Disability is an insurance program for workers who are injured or ill and as a result of their disability can no longer work. An “insured” worker has worked about 5 years of the last 10 years and has worked a required number of quarters in a year. The Social Security Administration runs two programs for Social Security disability.

The first program is called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). The second program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For both programs, the Social Security Administration defines “disability” as a physical or mental impairment, which keeps a person from doing substantial work and the impairment is expected to last more than a year or result in death.

In determining if a person is disabled, the Social Security Administration looks at their age, education, work history and the transferability of their work skills (can they work at another job). The same definition of disability is applicable to both programs. However, since many factors are evaluated, no two cases are the same. Each case is examined on an individual basis.

You do not need to be totally disabled in order to qualify for benefits. The Social Security Administration has listings to describe the severity of a disease or impairment for it to be considered disabling. However, even if you do not meet the listing requirements, it is still possible for you to be considered disabled when looking at your other individual factors.

The Social Security Administration should stop using claims increases or organizational troubles as an excuse for denying Social Security benefits to individuals who rightly deserve them. If organizational issues exist within the Social Security Administration and are acting to hinder the Social Security program from providing benefits to those too injured or ill to work, as it was designed to do, the system should be improved. Those who are disabled and unable to work should not have to suffer as a result of the government’s inadequacies.

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Paul d’Oliveira

Attorney Paul d’Oliveira has been practicing personal injury and disability law for over 30 years. He started his personal injury law practice in 1989 with two offices in Fall River, MA and East Providence, RI. Today his firm has 15 offices in RI and Southeastern, MA.

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